From time to time the Jews for Jesus staff is asked to train a worker from another mission society. Recently we hosted two missionaries from The Church’s Ministry Among the Jews (CMJ), a London-based gospel outreach to Jewish people. One of the missionaries, Richard Harvey, has returned to his ministry overseas after working for four months in our New York City and San Francisco mission stations. The other missionary, Agnita Sternheim, continues to serve her one-year apprenticeship at our Los Angeles branch. The following accounts were written by them.
If you have never been to the East End of London, you will find it very hard to imagine how different it is from Los Angeles, where I have come to serve as a missionary with Jews for Jesus. Still, there are some things that seem the same the world over.
Of those things that never change, one is people. All people in America and England need God. Yet both in America and in England they make the same kinds of excuses for rejecting or ignoring God’s love revealed in Jesus the Messiah.
Recently I have been discovering more and more of the joys of proclaiming release, freedom and God’s love—the joys of being a bearer of good tidings—of shouting from the rooftops that Jesus is the Word become flesh, that Jesus is the Messiah. I want to run with my beautiful feet” to proclaim it. Yet many people, both Jewish and Gentile, do not want to hear me. They make excuses.
I think sadly of one lady who could not keep her appointment with me to consider Jesus because an “emergency” came up. She had broken two fingernails! Then there are those who cannot take one of my broadside tracts because their hands are full. I know that many would drop whatever they were carrying if I were offering them $100 bills. Yet what I have to offer is worth so much more.
It is so very hard to see elderly Jewish people rejecting Jesus the promised Messiah in their last years because of fear—fear that their families will reject them—fear that they will not be allowed to be buried in Jewish cemeteries.
Then there are others who believe all the right facts about Jesus and at the same time see the cost of being a true disciple. They reject him because the thought of giving up wealth, friends or lifestyle is too high a price to pay.
There are many who reject Jesus clearly. Yet because they say no by using an excuse, their consciences are somehow appeased. How tragic to see people thus deceived. It seems to me that people have not changed much since the time when Jesus walked on earth. In fact, he told a story about those who made excuses not to attend a royal wedding. It’s found in Matthew chapter 22, and also in Luke chapter 14.
I find it startling to read the parable of the wedding feast in Matthew 22. Can you imagine a king making a wedding for his son and sending out his servants to call those invited to the wedding, only to have his invitation refused, not once, but twice! And for what? They went back to their farms and their businesses. I find it hard to imagine anyone refusing to go to a royal wedding. Yet again and again I see people refusing not only the invitation to the wedding to end all weddings, but also refusing to enjoy the eternal wedding celebration, and for such feeble excuses.
I know one lady who used to make up some of the best excuses for not believing in Jesus. “We Jews don’t believe in Jesus,” was one of her favorites. I say she used to make the best excuses because a little over four years ago, she became a believer in Jesus. She realized that if she rejected Jesus here, God would reject her one day and not allow her to spend eternity with him. So she stopped making excuses and accepted his invitation. Many people I meet give the excuse of being too old or too set in their ways, and yet after seeing the joy which Jesus has brought to this lady in her later years, I realize that this is no excuse at all. I shall never forget the look on her face as she stood up for the very first time to share her newfound faith and said, “I feel like a newborn babe.”
Please join me in praying that Jewish people, both young and old, will see their excuses for what they are. Pray that when confronted with the truth about Jesus and the reality that the choices they make here will determine their eternal destiny, they will gladly accept the invitation to the marriage feast of the Lamb.
Pray for those of us who go out to tell them, that we will never find an excuse that will stop us from running with our beautiful feet to share the good news of Messiah.